Rabbi speaks out against anti-Semitic propaganda

The Milford Daily News, May 7, 2003
By Laura Crimaldi

BELLINGHAM – A local rabbi sided yesterday with the police decision to nab three men accused of littering area lawns with anti-Semitic propaganda over the weekend, saying the arrests might give the trio pause.

“The police should look for a legal excuse to lock them up even if it’s protected under the First Amendment,” said Rabbi Mendy Kivman of Milford.

Ian C. Clark, 22, of 50 Edgewater Drive in Blackstone; Michael P. Medeiros, 24, of 18 Saunders St. in Pawtucket, R.I.; and Jeffrey Broadbent, 40, of 1034 Tremont St. in North Dighton; are charged with defacing property, littering from a motor vehicle, being disorderly and disturbing the peace, court papers show.

Broadbent is also charged with carrying a dangerous weapon after police recovered a folding knife and a box of .40-caliber ammunition, police said.

Police arrested the trio over the weekend after police were deluged with complaints about the anti-Semitic propaganda being dropped at doorsteps.

The National Alliance, a West Virginia-based white supremacist group, penned the propaganda, urging people to warn their children about Jews, end aid to Israel and attack the so-called “Jewish media control.”

Kivman acknowledged the role free speech could play in the criminal case.

“We live in a free country. Nobody’s prosecuted for what they think. They are punished for what they do,” Kivman said.

If anything, Kivman said the arrests might stop the men from ever passing out the hateful materials again. “Let it hassle them,” Kivman said. “That will make them think twice. It shouldn’t be done. Period.”

Local residents spotted three men throwing the bags from a white, four-door Oldsmobile. About 100 bags were left throughout the Blackstone Street and Candace Drive neighborhoods, police said.

Defense attorneys for Broadbent and Medeiros attacked the charges as assaults on free speech and promised to fight them in court.

“It’s classic free speech protected by the First Amendment,” said attorney John Manni. “I don’t see how they could charge him with any of these.”

Police Chief Gerard Daigle scoffed at the notion police did not have sufficient grounds to press charges.

“To me, we did what we had to do,” he said.

Police never cited free speech in filing charges.

Rabbi Barbara Symons of Temple Etz Chaim in Franklin offered words of comfort to the community.

“The more they speak out, the more the kind of people who pass out that sort of information will see that their message is falling on deaf ears. They are their own comfort,” she said.

Bellingham Selectman Ann Odabashian said she didn’t want to give the three defendants much credence.

“In today’s world, where we have so much to worry about, it’s very small-minded people that come up with this,” she said.

The co-defendants are due back in court June 19 for a pretrial conference.


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Religion News Blog posted this on Wednesday May 7, 2003.
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